Sustainability is the corporate buzzword for recyclability and the business world’s way of attempting to reduce waste. But help is needed on a few different levels to make this a realistic goal and help save the limited resources that we have here on Planet Ocean (aka Earth).
Sustainability can only go so far on the corporate level. We need more on the local level from consumers. Did you know that Nestle/Purina has a sustainability program to be 100% zero landfill waste by 2020 ? Along with a 35% reduction in water use and greenhouse gases? We have a cat along with the puppies that you have come to know and love and pet at the dive shop. The litter bag is recyclable. Or that Aqualung ships most of their products in packaging that can be recycled? We can help the sustainability of our planet by supporting companies that are working towards those same goals. Even PADI uses “styrofoam” peanuts that are made from corn starch and can be melted to nothing with very warm water. The more we as consumers can support the companies that are supporting our planet the more companies will work towards the same goals that we as divers have.
The second thing that we as consumers can work for better sustainability is ourselves. This one is easy. Be aware of what we buy. Recycle, reduce and reuse. Right now “blister” packaging is not accepted in Grand Junctions recycling center. (thanks China) So don’t purchase products in “blister” packaging. Thursday is trash day in our area and this morning as I was heading out, I saw a few recycle bins and bags out. But what I saw more of was all the cardboard boxes sitting in the trash cans to head to the landfill. Last night on KREX TV News there was a story about a study going on at our landfill. In the story there is mention of how MESA County throws away more plastic bottles that anywhere in the state. Plastic bottles that you can reuse over and over and yes over again.
The third way we as local consumers can help in our planets sustainability is to push the local city, county and recycling companies to accept more products. I won’t belabor the point above about China not accepting certain packaging, but our local companies need to do a better job of searching out other markets for these materials. And we as the consumer should put the pressure on them to do so.
I have taken the 100% Sustainability pledge. Will you join me?
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. That is my New Year Resolution that I wish everyone will adopt. In case you missed this story on our local news. I will share a few of the highlights.
Approximately 70% of what we send to the Mesa County landfill can be sorted to recycle. I know in our home we have 3 bins set up for recycle. Glass and plastics (at least 3 types can be taken at the local drop off), papers and even one for the packaging that is cereal boxes, crackers and the like. I am amazed at how empty our trash can has become with just this little step. And of course all of the cardboard boxes and packing materials that all the fun scuba toys ship in.
Speaking of packaging, did you know that over 1 million cubic feet of packaging is taken to the land fill during the holidays? According to estimates the Mesa County landfill has about 25 years left before it is full and we need to start over in a new place. I know that sounds like a long time to some, but not to our kids and grand kids. Now imagine if we can increase the life expectancy of that landfill by just a small bit? If more people reduced and reused and recycle we just might get that landfill to last say 50 to 60 years? It really would not take much to reach that small goal. Three bins in your garage. Once a week to the city drop off center. I generally go on Mondays.
One last little tidbit, approximately only 20% of the homes in Mesa County take advantage of the curbside pick up. Just imagine if that was say 50% or higher. Did you know that inside the city limits curbside recycle is available and only about $1.50 a week? Not in the city limits? For only $5 a month a few of the private trash companies will pick up your recycle bags or bins. Heck you do not even have to sort it, they will.
Oh and those old electronic toys that Santa is bring you new replacements for this Christmas. Best Buy will take them and recycle them for free. Just drop them off.
Project Aware and Dive Against Debris is one easy way that we can all help save and project Mother Ocean. I am sure that most of you have heard some horror stories about how there will be more plastic and trash in the ocean than creatures in 30 years. So how can we do something about it? The following is taken from the Dive Against Debris survey guide.
First safety is our primary consideration. If you are unsure about any item please leave it in place. If you see weapons or ammunition, leave it and mark its location and inform the local authorities. Also take great care with rusty items as they may be sharp or could leak chemicals that maybe harmful.
Consider the material the item is made from. Glass and steel cans are not going to cause much more harm than they already have, but if they have been long enough they just maybe home to some creatures. Also consider that eggs maybe attached, if they are mark the location and return at a later time to safely remove the item. Remove non-natural items such as plastics. These items break down into smaller parts and can cause more harm. Use your judgment in removing these types of items, it may be better to remove it even if doing so will cause some harm as the impact will be less than that of leaving the item.
On a Dive Against Debris, items such as car batteries and other containers that contain chemicals should be removed but only if you can safely remove them. Remember that we should be using lift bags for object that weigh over 10 pounds. If you are removing larger and heavier items it might be a good idea to take the Search and Recovery specialty class or if you have hitting the pool for a little practice time with the lift bag.
Finally on our Dive Against Debris, we have all seen videos and pictures of sea life caught up in fishing line and other items. These items are a menace and should be removed, but coral could have grown around it. You might need to cut around such a growth and remove just what is easily taken and leave the rest imbedded in the coral. Trying to cut it out of the coral will only cause more harm. Using trauma shears is better that a dive knife as they require less of a sawing motion and are general sharp enough to cut even wire.
Just a few ideas to help all of us protect Mother Ocean and Dive Against Debris
So, yesterday was Earth Day, a day to celebrate earth and support environmental protections that was first started in 1969 with the actual first Earth Day in 1970. It was mostly an American event and largely acknowledged by the youth and in Universities until 1990 when Earth Day went “global”. For many it is a reminder that we need to protect our resources and Earth Day is largely responsible for many of the recycling projects that many people start in their own homes, but what I noticed yesterday is how many of the post to social media and even in the evening news was only about earth and not water. In other words it was all about the less than 30 percent of the surface of the earth.
We celebrate Earth Day as a reminder to take care of our planet every year, but we largely ignore the ocean. After all, the ocean covers over 70% of the planet and gives us so much in the way of food and energy and yes even entertainment. In 2000, research showed that 11% or the planet’s coral reefs were damaged and degraded beyond recovery and in 2004 just about 20% of the reefs were dead. We are slowly losing a major player in maintaining our biological diversity as the coral reefs die off due to pollution and other factors. One such factor is the new deep water port for the cruise ships just off Palencia in Southern Belize. Yes, we celebrate Earth Day; but we forget about Mother Ocean.
If you haven’t downloaded the free book from Project Aware’s website, I will encourage you to do so. Just 115 pages it is an easy and quick read and yes you can even earn a PADI specialty afterward, but the book is very enlightening about our water covered world.
Dive Life, what is it? Close your eyes and imagine your dive life. Are you on an island? Maybe just near the coast. For most I would guess that when you close your eyes you pictured a tropical paradise and you are either leading divers or maybe just hanging around the dive shops. But for us in landlocked locations the dive life means and is something different.
The dive life for me is teaching and one of the best parts about it is that look on the students faces when they first breathe underwater. I am sure you have seen some of their pictures on our face book page and the big smiles that they have. But the dive life is more and to borrow a line from the old Miller High Life commercial; it is “good things for good people”.
Living the dive life is just being active in scuba diving. Taking a class or just getting in the pool and keeping your skills up. Maybe it is attending some social functions wearing your favorite dive shirt and engaging people in stories about your diving adventures and reliving those adventures.
The dive life doesn’t always have to be about scuba diving. It can be anything related to protecting our world and the environment. Recycle or organize a pick up trash day at a local lake or park. After the heavy rains that we have had the last few weeks and the flooding that came with it, I noticed just how many of our drains on the streets of Grand Junction are marked that they empty to the river and just about all of them were covered and blocked by trash. Plastic bags from the stores in every drain that go right to the river and eventually that trash winds up in our oceans. Sometimes living the dive life can just be taking care of the planet that we call home.
Living the dive life is and can be so many different things.
For a few more ideas give me a call and ask about our Project Aware Classes.
How many times have you come back from a dive and ran right for the fish id book and excitedly starting flipping through the pages desperately trying to figure out what that strange and wonderful new fish was that you saw? It happens at least 2 or 3 times on just about every dive trip. We become familiar with so many of the creatures that we see and after a short time frame are able to group them into families to make our fish id book easier to use.
There are over 21000 species of fish and over 4000 of them can be found on the coral reefs of the world. The most common of which can be broken down into 30 to 50 different families, we can break them down into 12 common groups
- Butterfly fish, angelfish and surgeonfish
- Jacks, barracuda, porgy and chubs
- Snappers and grunts
- Damselfish, chromis and hamlets
- Groupers, sea bass and basslets
- Parrotfish and wrasse
- Squirrelfish, bige yes and cardinal fish
- Blennies, gobies and jaw fish
- Flounders, scorpion fish, lizardfish and frogfish
- File fish, trigger fish, puffers, trunkfish, cowfish, goatfish, trumpet fish and drums
- Sharks and rays
Let’s break down the first group to help you in your fish id adventure. The Butterfly, angel and surgeon (tang) are all generally thin in the body with an oval or disc shape with very bright and interesting colors and patterns which allows us to group them easily into one family. But to be better at fish id, we need to note some differences that set these 3 apart within the family. The Butterfly fish are generally smaller with a concaved forehead and many have a longer mouth that allows them to pick out food in small crevices and cracks. Whereas the Angelfish are darker in color with a rounded forehead and have long dorsal fins and are multi-colored and our surgeon or tangs are one solid color with maybe a small accent color and if you can see them, there are little spikes by the tail.
As you practice your fish id skills on your next dive pick one family and see how many of the families with in the family you can identify. To add a challenge to your fish id adventure next see how many different of the smaller families you can spot.
Take a sandy bottom on the ocean floor; add in a ship wreck or concrete rubble or anything that will make a nice artificial reef structure, mix in some time and we have a new dive site or a new community development.
Sure it takes time for the marine life to form on an artificial reef, just as it takes times for a builder to build homes and the roads and sewer lines and all that goes into a new community. As we know from our discussion on coral reefs, they only occupy about the size of the state of Nevada on the ocean floor. And a lot of them are in trouble. But by adding artificial reefs such as decommission ships or concrete statues or other items that are cleaned and prepared for that purpose we can add to and aid the marine environment.
When we place an artificial reef at first it is just barren on the sandy bottom. But after a short period of time the first schools of fish start to come by and move in. They find protection in the artificial reef. Soon, the algae start to attach to the artificial reef and slowly coral starts to grow. As the corals grow more marine life stop by the new neighborhood as there is now something to eat as well as protection. As the fish start to hang out on the artificial reef, the little cleaner shrimp and crabs arrive and hang out an open for business sign. This attracts even more marine life. Before we know it a whole new ecosystem has developed around and on our artificial reef.
Take for example the Vandenberg that was sunk in May of 2009. The artificial reef is already home to shallow and deep-water fish, such as barracuda, Goliath grouper, dorado and the occasional sailfish, attracted by the clouds of bait schooling around the wreck. Over the course of time the ship will be covered in sea fans and other coral species. Another example is the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Some have been in place for 30 years and are covered in many different coral species and are home to a wide variety of fish and other marine life.
So the next time you are on a dive boat and looking at a barren sandy bottom just picture an artificial reef placed there and we have a new dive site.
In our last post we looked at the Rain Forest of the Ocean, the Coral Reefs. I even had the opportunity to introduce some fun facts about coral reefs in my last scuba class, which was a lot of fun and really help bring to the students why buoyancy is so important.
So, some more fun facts about coral reefs
They are home to nearly 1/3 of all know fish species. On your next dive on the coral reef, take a moment and try to count all the fish you see and that is only such a small fraction of what is out there in the ocean.
The Atlantic Ocean only holds about 8% of all the world’s coral reefs with about 70 different coral and 500 fish species. But the Indo-Pacific holds 92% of all the coral reefs with over 700 coral and 4000 fish species. That right there makes me want to go to the Pacific to dive more and more. Imagine all the new creatures just waiting to be discovered. Of all of the 107 known coral families only 8 are found in both oceans.
Scientist and drug companies have found that coral reefs contain many bio-medical compounds including antibiotics, anti-cancer and anti-HIV agents.
Coral Reefs protect over 1/6th of the world’s coast line. In fact if not for coral reefs a lot of the low Caribbean Islands that we all enjoy easy travel to would not exist. In the Maldives around Male, the natural reef had to be replaced to protect the island. The cost of that project was approximately $10,000 per square yard. While the cost to protect the coral reefs is less than $1 per square yard per year.
Coral Reefs are in danger. In 1998, the World Resource Institute estimated that 58% of the coral reefs were at risk. The coral reefs in South and South East Asia, the Caribbean and East Africa are at the greatest risk; while in places such as the Philippines, Jamaica and Indonesia the majority of the reef is already seriously damaged and dead. In 2000, researchers found that 11% of the world’s coral reefs were damaged beyond recovery and by 2004 almost 20% of the coral reefs were dead, partly due to rising temperatures. Some are even forecasting that in the next 30 to 50 years that most of the world’s coral reefs could be gone
Ah, the beautiful coral reefs of the tropical islands that we love to visit and explore and all the little fun creatures that call them home. As a diver we know how fragile and beautiful coral reefs are, after all most places that we go to visit them are now protected areas. We are told from the first day in our open water scuba class not to touch
Much like the rainforest that many activists are working to safe and conserve our version, the coral reefs are a warehouse of amazing biodiversity and is very complex eco system supporting a wide array of creatures. In fact, coral reefs are the habitat and nursery grounds for over 25% of all know marine life. Home to over a quarter of all marine species in only 110,000 square miles of basically the size of the state of Nevada. Our coral reefs are the foundation of life in the ocean, allowing bacteria and algae to coat the sandy bottom or vacant spots in the reef and providing food for the mollusks, crustaceans, sea cucumbers and others.
But, coral reefs are more that home and birthing grounds to the creatures that live there. They also, protect islands and coastal communities from wave damage and erosion. Coral reefs and mangroves will absorb up to 90% of the energy from waves as they race towards the beach. But, coral reefs can also start with a little help from us. The placement of wrecks and even the oil rigs out in the gulf are homes to coral and marine life.
But, coral reefs grow best in water ranging from 64 to 86 degrees and they grow slow. Branching corals such as the staghorn and elkhorn only grow horizontally at a rate of approximately 4 inches per year. Vertical growth varies as well and can be as slow as fractions of an inch a year. One poorly placed fin tip can wipe out a decade or more of growth. And as ocean temps rise the growth rate of our coral reefs can slow and even kill them.
You can learn how to help protect or coral reefs in a Peak Performance Buoyancy clinic or class.
Take a look at a globe, what do you see? A lot of blue that defines earth as an aquatic world. We know that water makes up over 70% of the surface of the earth, but the aquatic world that we live on is so much more special and amazing than we think. There are 2 different types of water that make up our aquatic world, so let’s take a little look at both.
When we are out fishing or diving in our fresh water lakes and rivers we assume that they make up a large part of the aquatic world, after all just look how big the Great Lakes are and the Nile River and the Mississippi River, they are huge; but all the fresh water in the world is less than the amount of water in the Indian Ocean basin. Just a scant 3% of all the water on this aquatic world is fresh with right at 75% of that frozen in polar ice caps and another 20% of all fresh water is in ground water.
There are 2 primary fresh water ecosystems. Lentic which are inland depressions with standing water formed by glacial erosion and depositions, rock and debris that block streams or earth movement that caused land to sink and flood. These systems are influenced by temperature which cause biological stratification and are divided into 4 zones. The second major system is the Lotic ecosystem that are the running waters of our rivers and streams. These environments are subject to constant change and demand a continuous supply of nutrients from land based sources.
The second source of water on our aquatic world is the oceans. When we look at the globe and all that blue we see different names and we think that there are different oceans. Actually it is all one big ocean, the names come from a time when we didn’t know much about the world and they are also an easy way to label different regions of the ocean.
There are also 2 zones in the ocean, the aphotic zone that is the zone of perpetual darkness and the photic zone or the zone where light can reach. As divers we also think that the ocean is a generally warm place but the average temp is a chilly 38 degrees and the temp ranges from 32 degrees to a balmy 98 in the Persian Gulf. The average depth of our ocean is approximately 2.4 miles and the world’s longest mountain range is found running from the Arctic Ocean through the Atlantic and past African and Asia to the Pacific and the west coast of North America, a little over 10,000 miles.
With the Pacific Ocean alone being 25% larger than all land masses it is easy to see what an important role the aquatic world place in our day-to-day being.
Happy diving! and feel free to leave a comment